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African violets and collectible houseplants
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Priority or Express Mail?

During winter (November thru end of March) we will guarantee safe delivery only by Express mail.  When Priority mail is chosen, plant orders are sent at customer’s risk. 

What does this mean?  If plants arrive dead or heavily damaged during winter:
if you selected Express mail:  we will refund, replace, or reship plants—no questions asked.
if you selected Priority mail:  we will not refund, replace or reship plants.  The risk is yours.

What is the cost difference?
Express mail adds $20 to your shipping costs (i.e. is $20 more than cost of Priority shipping).

Why does it cost so much?
It simply reflects the costs charged by the US Postal Service!  In fact, the cost charged to you is less than the actual postage costs we pay!  On the average order, actual postage costs are about $1 more than what we charge you (and about $4 less than what you would pay to mail the same box), not counting the cost of the box and insulation (another $2).  Why do we do this?  To encourage Express mail to be chosen and to be able to ship orders in winter when business would otherwise be slow.  We don’t make our money on shipping, just the plants and supplies you buy.

Why is shipping in winter so risky?  Why should I worry?
The plants we ship are tropical and subtropical—they don’t like the cold!  They are fragile, living things.  Further, they are being shipped from upstate NY—it can be cold here!  To illustrate, here are the average low temperatures for Rochester, NY (where our airport is located):

November: 33 degrees Fahrenheit.
December: 24 degrees
January: 18 degrees
February: 18 degrees
March: 26 degrees

It may be warmer where you live, but it often isn’t here or in transit.  Don’t ask us to “hold your order” or wait for “good” weather—we cannot control the weather and will not try to predict it!

Are plants protected when shipped?
Yes.  The boxes are well insulated and we pack both Priority and Express orders in the same manner.  The most sensitive plants are double wrapped, often in foam. We do not use heat packs (they have limitations and can create problems of their own).   Insulated boxes are rated to withstand subfreezing temperatures for a number of hours. 

Why is shipping by Express safer?  Why do you guarantee it?
The US Postal Service guarantees timeliness of delivery on Express mail—it must arrive by specified time, within 24 hours for most locations.  About 80% of shipments are guaranteed to arrive the day after mailing.  This means they are the first packages on the truck, the first to the airport, the first onto the plane and the first to arrive at the destination.  Once there, a signature is required so we can be certain the package is safely received and not left unattended.

Why is Priority mail not guaranteed? 
The USPS does not guarantee timeliness of delivery on Priority mail—it “typically” will arrive 2-3 days after mailing but can, on occasion, take longer.  When weather is good, this won’t matter, since plants can safely stay in box for much longer.  In winter, however, time exposed to very cold temperatures can be critical.  

Don’t all packages go on the same plane anyways?  I live in a warm climate and it will be safe here.
Yes, both packages may go on a plane, but Express packages get to the airport first and often get on an earlier plane.  An example: an Express package going to CA gets to the Rochester airport within 3 hours of leaving our local post office in Naples, and arrives in CA by very early the next morning.  A priority package leaves Naples, gets to the Rochester airport over 6 hours later, after having first made a stop at a different USPS distribution center—more than 3 hours later, some of this time spent driving across Rochester in a truck.  Then, it may not depart the Rochester airport for another 12 hours!

Why ship in winter at all?  Why even offer a choice in shipping?
First, we have bills to pay.  Our staff grows plants all year and want a paycheck whether or not any plants are actually shipped.  The utility company, and others all want to be paid as well.  Second, our customers expect to buy plants, even in winter—for some especially in winter!  We understand that Express shipping is more expensive, and don’t want to impose extra costs on customers who don’t want to pay it or feel it unnecessary.  We tried this briefly, only to get complaints from some who disliked being forced to pay more for shipping.  We provide the choice, explain the difference, and let the customer decide.

Still, I hate to spend so much money.  What are my chances?
We ship many thousands of orders each year, over 2,000 orders during the winter months alone.  Most all arrive without incident.  During the year, fewer than 1% of orders require any sort of refund, replacement, or reshipment.  This rate is higher in winter, and lower spring thru fall.  About half the orders shipped in winter are sent via Priority mail.  Of those sent by Priority mail, about 90%, will arrive without significant problems or damage.  This risk is greatest during December, due to the holidays and high USPS mail volume, and when weather is extremely cold.  The risk, however, is yours!

When done by Express mail, we guarantee safe arrival regardless of weather, the actions of the USPS, or ourselves (we do make mistakes). Of course, you can always wait until spring.  We will guarantee safe delivery, by both Priority and Express shipping, beginning in April.